BRIDGEWATER — It wasn’t Bridgewater College’s sharpest performance of the season. But the 21st-ranked Eagles kept their school-record winning streak alive, likely secured a home game to open the NCAA Division III playoffs and gave coach Michael Clark an opportunity to rest his starters in the fourth quarter.
All in all, BC got exactly what it wanted out of Saturday’s regular season finale, a 41-7 victory against Guilford. It was Bridgewater’s 14th consecutive victory dating back to October, 2018.
“I’m going to declare victory tonight,” Bridgewater coach Michael Clark said. “I’m going to enjoy this, but I also know there’s a challenge and an opportunity coming up next week.”
Sunday evening the Eagles received the official word they would host Delaware Valley, the Middle Atlantic Conference champion, in the opening round of the playoffs. Kickoff for the first playoff game at Jopson Athletic Complex is next Saturday at noon.
Clark and his staff began preparing for 9-1 Delaware Valley almost as soon as the bracket was unveiled.
“That’s a traditional power in a very strong conference,” Clark said. “We’ll work all night. We had the watch party with the kids and now we’ll be here for a while. I told the kids, the one thing that’s better than making the playoffs is wining in the playoffs. That’s the opportunity that’s in front of us right now.”
Saturday’s first quarter was uncharacteristically sloppy for the Eagles with a pair of fumbles in the first quarter, perhaps symptoms of a hangover from last week’s emotional victory against Randolph-Macon to clinch the Old Dominion Athletic Conference title. But Bridgewater still managed to claim a 20-0 lead early in the second quarter after a two-yard touchdown run by sophomore Albert Mensah.
Mensah finished with a career-high 89 yards on 17 carries and the Bridgewater defense put together another dominant performance with Guilford’s only score coming on a 100-yard kickoff return late in the game.
“Everyone was talking about playoffs, but we were just focused on each game individually and this week it was Guilford,” BC cornerback Chase Rosenthal said. “If anybody thought we were going to slack off this weekend, our goal was to be an undefeated champion and that’s what we did.”
Rosenthal and Matt Dang each came up with interceptions in the opening period and the Eagles took advantage of short fields early in the game as Jay Scroggins capped a pair of drives with touchdown passes to put BC ahead 14-0 after one quarter.
Scroggins completed 22 of 29 passes for 260 yards and finished the regular season with 25 touchdown passes against just one interception.
Late in the third quarter, Scroggins found Viante Tucker along the sideline for a 45-yard touchdown pass, his third of the game, to give the Eagles a four-score lead. That allowed the senior quarterback and most of the first-stringers to enjoy the final 15 minutes from the sideline.
The Eagles will now wait until Sunday evening to find out exactly where they are seeded and what path awaits them in the postseason.
“I think it was a convincing win,” Clark said. “We had 85 people suited up and I think we played 84 of them. We gave everybody a little piece of a championship. I’m going to enjoy this, but the challenge the kids are going to face is, I’m sure they are going to ship somebody in here. But I’m sure it’s going to be a really good team.”